In one version or another, I’ve had this spicy bean soup from the Louisiana Delta right up to the Texas border. The most memorable I’ve tasted was made with the highly spiced and smoked Cajun ham called tasso, but since tasso is still not that easy to come by outside the region, I’ve learned that aged country ham works almost as well. While few Louisiana cooks would bother to simmer the beans this long and turn part of them into a purée, I find that the extra time and effort transforms an ordinary potage into a rather refined first course.
Place the beans in a bowl with enough water to cover and let soak overnight.
Drain, rinse, and pick over the beans, place in a large, heavy pot, and add the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour.
Add all the remaining ingredients, bring the soup back to simmer, cover, and cook 2 hours longer.
In a blender or food processor, purée about one-quarter of the soup, return to the pot, and stir well. Heat the soup thoroughly and serve in soup bowls or plates.
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